Saint Espresso & Kitchen, Kentish Town

Saint Espresso & Kitchen, Kentish Town

Hanging around or about in Kentish Town? Want to go somewhere nice for brunch? Why not stop by over at Saint Espresso kitchen, just a 1 minute walk from Kentish Town underground station. The cafe is usually quite busy on the weekends and at around lunch time, so you’ll want to go early.

What do you eat there?

You can see their full menu here. I usually go for the Full Breakfast which comes with two free-range poached eggs, streaky bacon, avocado, tarragon mushrooms, slow roasted tomatoes & sourdough toast.

You can see the food in all its beauty when I went today with a friend for a relaxed & chilled brunch:

My good friend went for a slightly smaller dish – Poached Eggs on Toast with Tarragon Mushrooms added:

A nice cup of tea to go with it, and job done:

I’ll admit that the place is a little more on the expensive side, with the Full Breakfast costing £11 and the Poached Eggs on Toast costing about £5.50 + £2.50 with the Tarragon Mushrooms added – and don’t forget the cost of the tea.

However, it’s definitely worth the visit and the food is delicious, so you definitely get what you pay for.

Becoming a Taiwanese national through descent…

Becoming a Taiwanese national through descent…

Originally posted Sep 6, 2011. Updated: Jan 3, 2020.

Once Taiwanese you will be required to serve 12 months as a conscript in the Taiwanese military. Anyways, this blog post is essentially just the process you’ll go through to get all my documents verified by two different authorities from two different countries.

Since I am British and my mother is Taiwanese, I can apply for Taiwanese nationality. Your age factors highly into you claiming for Taiwanese nationality through descent. According to an immigration officer who I was speaking to, he stated that I should apply for Taiwanese citizenship while I was still 19. This is because Taiwan recognises people under 19 as dependants. I did ask if I applied after I am 20 what difficulty I would face and the answer was that “it would be more difficult.” (Not the best answer in the world) Although I still believe it is possible to claim Taiwanese nationality through descent even if you are over the age of 19. However, this blog post is really to help those under 20, as these are my experiences and recommendations.

What documents do you need to apply?

Obviously to apply to become Taiwanese I required certain documents from the UK, they were:

  • Birth certificate (British)
  • Your parents marriage certificate (British)

Since I am from the UK, these documents are required to be certified by the Foreign Commonwealth Office. They have a special office in the UK setup for this called the “The Legalisation Office”. Per document it cost me £30’s each to get these certified. (Source) Essentially, I needed these documents to prove that I am indeed a child of these two people who are married, and more importantly that my mum is married to my dad. This is proof that my birth certificate is indeed correct and that I am the son of someone who’s Taiwanese. (i.e. my mother)

You also need to fill out their form which can be downloaded from here: (Applicable to those who are British Subjects)

Download (You need to fill in this document and send it off with the rest of your documents. – Your Birth certificate and your parents Marriage certificate)

These documents also need to be verified and stamped by the Taipei Representative Office (TRO) in London. (Sort of an unofficial embassy in the UK or just like a consulate)

Translation of the documents

At the original time of writing, it cost £10s each to get my birth certificate and marriage certificate verified and stamped by the TRO. However I was also required to have these documents translated. (Source)

TIP: It is a good idea to get them translated, just in-case if you need the documents. It costs a bit extra, but the extra effort and money is worth it for any certain amount of scenarios which may occur.

TIP: So, if you are unsure whether you have to get them translated or not, make sure you either concretely find out whether you need translated copies (Of your birth certificate and of your parents marriage certificate) or purely just get a translated copy and that will solve any issues which may arise.

Although, I have heard that English is accepted in some parts of Taiwan, thus a translation is not required, however in Taichung where I live, it was most definitely required. Though as stated, it is always a good idea to get a translated copy. It doesn’t too much to get one and it’s not that difficult to find a lawyer or someone who can do it for you. You can see how I got my documents translated below.

The translations need to be verified by the Taipei Representative Office in London

There is an additional cost of £10’s for each document to purely get them verified; the translated copies. (The TRO does not supply a translation service for your documents, they need to be translated first and sent with the original copy to their offices in London)

However, I managed to simply get these documents translated by an IT company who were competent enough to translate the documents into Chinese from English. I could have done this myself if I knew Chinese well enough to translate the documents. (Via creating a spreadsheet or using Microsoft Word to create a table and to fill it in Chinese, like the same design or aspect as the original English version) – As long as the information is correct, I believe the TRO in London will verify and stamp it. Once that it is done, the document can be used anywhere in Taiwan as an official document.

How can I pay the Foreign Commonwealth Office? (UK Foreign office)

You can pay them via their website; all online.

All you have to include is a print out with proof that you paid them for the documents.

You also need to pay for post and packaging. They also have an option online, whereby you can pay via Fedex to have it returned to you insured. However I will include another option or the option which I took which was much easier, since you still need the documents to be verified by the Taipei Representative Office in London; whom are also located in London. So there is no point them sending the document back to Taiwan, for you to just send it back to the UK to the TRO’s legislation office to get it verified. See what I did below under “How did I send it off via mail?”.

Checklist before you send your documents off to the UK – Legalisation Office:  

  • Your parents marriage certificate.
  • Your birth certificate.
    • A translated copy of your parents marriage certificate.
    • A translated copy of your birth certificate.
  • Legalisation application form for the Legalisation Office (Foreign Commonwealth Office) – Filled in. Download here.
    • You need a bankers cheque addressed to the “Foreign Commonwealth Office” worth around £2 or £3. Personally I sent £3. This was so they could send the verified and stamped documents to the Taipei Representative’s Legalisation Office in London. You must also include an envelope addressed to the Taipei Representative Office in London or their legalisation office including a note directing them what you want them to do. (I.e. Please send this to the Taipei Representative Office in London. (Including their address))
  • Legalisation application form for the Legalisation Office (Taipei Representative Office) – Filled in. Download here.
    • You will need a bankers cheque for the amount £40 to get all 4 documents legalised/verified. (£10 for each document) They will also send the document back for a fee of £8 to Taiwan. So in total you need a bankers cheque worth £48.00 addressed to “The Taipei Representative Office”. You also need another envelope, addressed to your home address in Taiwan. They will stick all the documents inside that, once they place their verification stamp or seal of approval on the documents then send it off to the address on the envelope.
    • You are also required to have a form of identity sent to the Taipei Representative Office. I copied my passport and included it inside the envelope addressed to the TRO’s legalisation office.
I have included in more detail below under “How did I send it off via mail?” how I sent it to the UK via mail to have it also sent to TRO office then back to Taiwan. 
Please also note that you need to send the application form first to the Foreign Commonwealth’s Legalisation Office. It needs their stamp of approval first before the Taipei Representative Office in London can verify and authenticate the stamp as well as the document.

How did I send it off via mail?

Once I had gathered all the required documents, I made sure everything was in functional order. I then packed all the documents that the TRO required into an envelope addressed to them. This included:

  • A photo copy of my passport as proof of identity.
  • The application form the TRO requires you to fill in for their verification service.
  • The two translated copies of your birth certificate and your parents marriage certificate.
After the Foreign Commonwealth’s Legalisation Office verify your documents, they will then pack those verified documents into the addressed envelope to the Taipei Representatives’ Legalisation Office in London. (You need to give them instructions on what to do. Try explain clearly. I included a typed draft letter for instructions on what they should do…) With the £3 or so you send them via bankers cheque [With the rest of your documents], they will use this money to send the document first-class to the TRO’s legalisation office.

Sending the documents from Taiwan:

Once I had everything packed and ensured that I had absolutely everything, I sent it all off. I packed everything into an envelope, went to the local post office in Taichung where I live and sent it off to that address in the UK. (To the FCO’s legalisation office in Milton Keynes)
It is as simple as that when posting it. You just have to make sure you have everything, as you can’t go and check again, once you have already sent it off. Just wait for the documents to come back and once they do you have the documents you need to become Taiwanese. I will also write an article on how I applied to the Taiwanese immigration office to be Taiwanese, with the relevant documents I needed for that. Since there are extra documents you need to get to verify your parents marriage in Taiwan. Though this is very easy if you have your mum in Taiwan to help you. It purely involves going down to your local registration office.
If this is unclear and if you need help, feel free to contact me.
5 Things To Do In Taichung

5 Things To Do In Taichung

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Taiwan is a beautiful place; however, as a person who has lived 2 and a half years of my life in Taichung, the middle of Taiwan, I feel that I need to give tips and ideas to those who would like to visit this dear island and this great city. So, in this I’ll be detailing things to do and places to go. This article will be more suited to those who are planning to stay in Taiwan for quite a while and whether you’ll be working or purely studying then this article will, hopefully, be suitable for your needs.

As I’ve lived here for quite a long time, I’ve come to know Taichung quite well and when I compare it my home city in London, the first thing I compare is price. Taichung is by far cheaper and the standard of living is high because of that. When it comes to public transport, food, study, outings, clothing and many more things, Taichung is far cheaper than western countries.

The food is also exceptional and that’s something I’ve personally taken advantage of. The people are also nice and are very welcoming.

While I’d say that Taichung is a big city, there aren’t that many western people, so if you’re western looking you’ll receive stares from others; almost as if you’re from another world. This makes it easier for westerners/others to engage with the locals and if you are able to speak English, a lot of Taiwanese people will try and practice their English with you. In some ways it’s quite endearing as you would not get as much of where I used to live in London.

However, as with anything it requires a little effort, but if you make the effort to find friends, you’ll eventually find the right ones.

So, what to do:

Mandarin

1.  Learn Mandarin

Learning Man­darin is at the top of my list of things to do in Tai­wan, let alone Taichung. It’s cheaper, from my small search online, than Chi­nese schools that offer Man­darin programs in China and I feel the environment is a lot more mod­ern and the people are a lot nicer in Tai­wan than they are in China. (Huge gen­er­al­i­sa­tion, I know.) To make myself feel better, according to statistics and the latest news China has extremely bad environmental records. – So, come to Taiwan instead. To move things on a bit, where should you study Mandarin in Taichung? Here’s a nice list that I’ve put together:

Per­son­ally, I stud­ied at a university’s language cen­tre in a uni­ver­sity known as “Feng-Chia Uni­ver­sity” and it offers an excel­lent pro­gram for begin­ners, novice and advanced Man­darin Chi­nese stu­dents. — It’s where I made the major­ity of my friends in Tai­wan and it really made me happy. At first, my learn­ing abil­ity of other lan­guages was dread­ful, but after learn­ing Mandarin-Chinese, I feel that my abil­ity to learn other lan­guages has increased as I know I can speak other lan­guages if put effort into it; rather than think­ing, “I will never have the abil­ity to learn other lan­guages”. This was some­thing that I gen­uinely believed before. Any­ways, Learn Man­darin! It’s a use­ful lan­guage and an emerging global language!

2. Visit the Night Markets 

Yi Zhong Street

Yi-Zhong-Jie

Taichung is popular for its many night markets and the night life in Taiwan as a whole is unlike any other when compared to western countries. Especially, as a person from England, I can say that Taichung has an exciting night life and that you should come over here, make friends, work, and go out to these night markets to buy drinks, eat food, buy clothes and practice your new Mandarin speaking skills!

However, it’s okay if you can’t yet speak Mandarin, as most places have signs that are in English and even the workers can speak enough English to understand what you want. I recommend trying the famous Pearl Milk Tea (珍珠奶茶) and the delicious cheap food in the night markets.

Feng Chia

Feng Chia Night Market

Night Markets to visit:

  • Feng-Chia night market
  • Yi-Zhong-Jie night market
  • More…

My personal favourites are the 2 listed above as they are situated in nice locations and are crowded. (Yes, I like people.) However, there are more night markets out there if you look and I haven’t been to all of them, so I’m not going to speak for them.

Buying clothes advice

When my sister visited Taiwan, the one thing she found that was cheaper than England was the clothing and shoes. The shoes can be really cheap. But, I don’t want people to buy cheap stuff that won’t last long, as that type of clothing does exist and in the end it’s a waste of money if the clothing you buy only lasts a month or so. I would recommend paying at least $500-1,000NT for a nice pair of jeans and at least $1,500NT for a nice pair of shoes. Anything below that amount, I would not consider as high enough quality for purchase. I could be wrong and you could indeed find a bargain, and that is the beauty of purchasing things in Taiwan, you can find bargains and you can find a whole new look. Also, if you are purchasing stuff at night market, I’d recommend that you purchase inside shops rather than stools. In my opinion the stools sell the lower quality goods that won’t last long and maybe after a couple wash cycles, they’ll be faded and will look old.

3. Massage

SAMSUNG

Go for a massage (按摩). You could not find a masseuse in the UK that would offer to massage your back for 20 minutes and only charge you $200NT.  Or, for an hour long full-body massage you’ll only have to pay $600NT. It’s damn cheap. However, there is a reason why it’s cheap and that’s because the people massaging you are actually blind. They do a superb job and I really am feeling better after a good massage from them.

Take advantage of the nice back rub that you haven’t had in years!

4. Visit Taichung Park

Taichung park, house

There is this beautiful park in Taichung called Taichung Park (中山公園; 中山公園). There is a small lake which encompasses a small island in the middle that has a pavilion on it where you can view directly from the middle of the lake. You can also hire one of those small blue boats and row around the lake.

It’s quite beautiful and it’s not too far away from Yi Zhong Street night market, so you can go here first then go to Yi Zhong Street for lunch, dinner or to buy stuff. The park is usually full in the mornings and afternoons.

I would only recommend going to this place if you want to go to relax, have a picnic, exercise, or if you want to go sight-seeing. Though, of course, others may find this place boring.

5. Visit Yamay (Water park)

yamay-map

You visit this water park that is in Taichung County called Yamay. It’s a lot of fun and I would recommend this to everyone. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures as I didn’t want to take my electronics out of bag and I just wanted to have fun! The place features a FULL water themed park along with roller coasters, food stalls, restaurants, a massive wave mountain and massive water slides! I would highly recommend this place.

Address: No. 115, Anmei Rd, Houli Township, Taichung County 421, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
 TEL:0800-054080
 Fax:04-25583489
 Website: www.yamay.com.tw
White Water Rafting in London (Lee Valley) Review

White Water Rafting in London (Lee Valley) Review

I went white water rafting at the Lee Valley White Water Centre as part of a group for my friend’s birthday. I was rather nervous about doing this as I had never done white water rafting in my life.

The Experience

The experience and professionalism of the staff was amazing. So good that I really want to go again in 2020 and hence why I have put up this short blog about the experience.

Conveniently they snap pictures all around the course, and there are actually professional photographers positioned in key areas. We all of the photos as a group for a very low cost when splitting the bill between us all, so ended paying a very small amount each for some fantastic photos:

Should you go there for your birthday?

Hell yes. I would encourage anyone to go there for their birthday who is typically interested in adventure sports. The cost isn’t too bad either at £349 per raft and a maximum capacity for 9 people; that brings the cost down to £38.7 per person.

There is also a bar there that serves alcohol and food, so really convenient if you’re celebrating a birthday there.

The staff there, as I mentioned before, were very professional and took all the precautions you would need for this and gave detailed explanations on how to use the equipment.

As I also mentioned, this is the first time that I’ve done any white water rafting, but the experience was really good and if you’re safety cautious then this will be the safest method of white water rafting – rather than doing it for real.

In closing, you don’t need to be skilled to do white water rafting as you get a trained person on the raft who guides you and tells you exactly what to do with a couple of practice runs round the course.

You also get opportunities to switch positions whilst on the raft, with the front, I must warn, being the most susceptible to being soaked the most or rather with half your body in water for a good amount of time.

It’s great fun, and definitely recommended. You can go to the official website to find out more: https://www.gowhitewater.co.uk/

Never live with a live in Landlord

Never live with a live in Landlord

I’m actually fuming at the moment. I love when I can write a post on here that comes from the heart and soul. So I live with a live in landlord or a resident landlord and it has been an utter nightmare to live in this place. I mean the house is nice, my room is nice and the other flatmate is nice. It’s the landlord that is the problem.

The reason I’m writing this blog post at the moment is because my landlord just turned off the washing machine – full of my clothes that was half way to being fully washed. I’d already put the washing powder and the clothes softener in – in fact, it was the last of my washing powder. I’ve been looking for opportunities to wash my clothes, but he always leaves his washing in the washing machine and by the time I want to use it, it’s too late. Today, I had enough and sent a text to him and asked him if he could take his washing out of the washing machine. He didn’t respond (this was at around 10:30pm), so I decided to take his washing out and put it on the counter. It’s pretty inconsiderate to leave your washing in the washing machine in the first place, especially if, like him, you do it on a regular basis. So my clothes are being washed and it’s around 11:30pm and my washing has been in the machine for a good hour. He then comes out of his room, and knocks on my door saying that it’s too late to do my washing and then goes into the kitchen and turns off the washing machine with my washing still in there.

Of course, I’m fuming and give him the dirtiest look ever. I didn’t say anything that I’d later regret. All I say is that I’ve not had the opportunity to wash my clothes this week. The thing with him is that he works from home, so I’m thinking in my head that he can do his clothes washing in the middle of the day. On the other hand, I’ve got to do my washing when I come back from work. I can’t do this if someone else has their washing still in the washing machine. He responds by telling me that I should do it in the morning, but he knows that I leave for work quite early in the morning. Plus, if I turn the washing machine on in the morning then it’ll be in the washing machine with a smell and if I leave it on a timer then that would be inconsiderate because then other people wouldn’t be able to use the washing machine. Either way, I’ve now got to take time away from work to wash my clothes – as I’ve literally got no clean towels left to dry myself after a shower and I’m running out of shirts to wear.

It’s not only this that I’m having trouble with either. I cooked in the kitchen on the first week that I moved in and he complained about the smell of bacon and told me to put it in the oven and not to fry the bacon. The fucker smokes weed, and is complaining about the smell of bacon when I can smell his weed from inside my room. So instead of cooking, I’m literally eating out all of the time – an additional cost I never expected before. He’s also coming in to my room on regular intervals without telling me. I come home after work and find something has changed in my room. He seems like a nice and honest guy, but he is absolutely a horrible person to live with. He actually asked me if I would like to renew my contract here for another 6 months. Hell no. Just hell no. I can’t wait till the contract expires, so I can move out.


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Chinese food at Westfield Shopping Centre & Pretzels

Chinese food at Westfield Shopping Centre & Pretzels

This weekend has been somewhat eventful. I have actually found a Chinese restaurant, which isn’t too expensive and that actually serves some great Chinese food. In fact, it’s inside Stratford’s Westfield Shopping Centre and they actually cook the food fresh – believe it or not. It’s made me rethink the whole idea of going to buffet restaurants, as the food just doesn’t stack up in terms of quality. I guess I expected too much out of those buffet restaurants in London’s Chinatown.

Lotus Leaf

Fresh Chinese Street Food

The restaurant is called “Lotus Leaf” and they actually cook all the food they make in front of you – similar to how it is in Taiwan and perhaps China, too. It was pretty cool seeing them make strands of dough, which eventually became my noodles! Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of this, but you’ll be able to find videos on YouTube on how they make these noodles.

Lotus Leaf

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Chinese chicken and noodles

Fried Noodles & Chicken with Dumplings

Update: Fresh Noodles .gif by Lotus Leaf

Cooking fresh noodles .gif

 

The food was great and I definitely recommend this as the place to go in Stratford, if you want fresh Chinese food that is affordable (£8 per dish) and of high quality.

You’ll be able to find this restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Westfield Shopping Centre.

Pretzels to finish it off

My colleague/friend recommended that I try these special Cinnamon Pretzels that is also in Westfield Shopping Centre. I think this is also on the 2nd floor near the escalators.

Pretzel selfie

A selfie with my delicious Cinnamon Pretzel

Tasted just right. Why not give it a go?

Thanks for reading! Be sure to comment if you have any recommendations for Chinese restaurants anywhere in London. I’ll be more than happy to try it out and perhaps give it a review.